The Rest Is Best
By Lorna Foreman
Big or small, they arouse our deepest sentiments
For several years, I have yo-yoed between‘ do I move or stay?’ I’ve mentioned it in columns and the dilemma started to bore me. I did not like being indecisive — not to mention how boring it must have been for readers.
I decided to stay — really, stay. I hadn’t made that decision before the topic was chosen, which is ‘when do you know it is time to move?’ But I still think it is a good question — when do you know when it is time to move?
Some arguments are clear. A friend of mine recently lost her husband of many years. They owned a very large house that echoed with memories. It was far too big for one person but not set up for sharing. After a year, she decided to move to a smaller house and she absolutely loves it.
It is an interesting situation to decide whether to move or stay. There are many reasons. Some seniors move from a rural area to a city to be closer to hospitals and other amenities. It means one could almost do without a car.
No matter what, there are emotional reactions to moving; leaving a family home is difficult enough at any age — but adjusting to a new place can take time and we need to be open to all the changes — especially new neighbours. The old neighbours were comforting (usually) and suddenly, that familiarity has disappeared — and if you move into an apartment, it is never quite as easy to make new friends, especially with this pandemic still on.
Fortunately, most of us have a choice. I cannot imagine having to move because of a tragedy like a fire, flood or hurricane. How horrible to watch your home and all your belongings being taken away without being able to stop it?
Most of us won’t end up homeless because of poverty, but the need to have some place that we identify with is strong. When I spent a year on a sailboat, I promptly made it my home, albeit temporary. I decorated it with rocks, shells and other silly things I found to make it‘ mine. ’I bought books at various marinas to give it as much hominess as possible. At times, I felt like a tortoise — my home moved with me in it.
It is natural to feel some anxiety, even slight depression. Yet, there are many positive aspects such as the hope of new directions — especially if you move to a new city for an exciting job or to be near your grandchildren. When I moved from my house of 16 years, I tried not to remember all the wonderful aspects that I would not be able to enjoy again. I also tried to remember all the things wrong with the house. It made leaving slightly less painful.
At last, I have decided to stay where I am and have plans to turn it into my little haven. There is never a perfect home, but I will try to make this one as close to perfect as I can.
Be thankful you have a home. Imagine the people who lived in war-ravaged countries needing to leave all they have and find a safe country to move, to save their lives. I admire and am amazed at how these people adapt. Some have their families, but not everyone is that fortunate. Not only do they experience the loss, but being thrust into a strange country, learning a new language, and adjusting to different social customs is an awesome undertaking.
To have a home — one where you know you can live is a privilege. It brought to mind — just what is a home? A home is not necessarily a house, which reminds me of a line from a Frost poem, The Death of the Hired Man — “home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” I find that very poignant. During a period of my life when I travelled for work, spent a year sailing, and really, had no home, there was a place I knew I could go at any time and I knew they would make me feel at home and allow me to stay for a while. That, to me, is the real meaning of a home…otherwise it is just a house.
I ponder the situation of being homeless. Since I believe that most people feel the need to have a ‘home,’ can these people ever feel at home? Where I lived in Toronto, there was a homeless woman who, when someone found her long lost daughter, was delighted but did not want to move from her‘ spot’ on the streets of Toronto. Did she consider that her home I don’t know, but she was content having been found by her daughter. Perhaps that is all she needed. n
Lorna Foreman is a self-described 70-plus writer, author and artist who lives happily and creatively in Cornwall.